- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Two days. Two potential starting wide receivers and a No. 1 tight end.

Not a bad weekend’s work for the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins yesterday signed versatile wideout Antwaan Randle El to a six-year, $27 million deal that included $11.5 million in guaranteed money to leave the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Former New England tight end Christian Fauria also signed an undisclosed deal to join the Redskins, NFL sources said.

Randle El, who came aboard a day after the Redskins traded two draft picks to San Francisco for receiver Brandon Lloyd, rejected a reported six-year, $18 million offer from his hometown Chicago Bears. Fauria, 34, will replace Robert Royal, who signed with Buffalo on Saturday.

In his first year as a starter last season, the 26-year-old Randle El caught just 35 passes for 558 yards and a touchdown for the run-heavy Steelers. But Randle El, a star quarterback at Indiana, is attractive because of his variety of talents. He averaged 6.1 yards a carry, threw three passes (one for a touchdown) and averaged 10.2 yards on punt returns with two touchdowns. In 2004, Randle El averaged 25.1 yards a kickoff return.

Neither the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Randle El nor the 6-foot, 192-pound Lloyd (48 touchdowns, 733 yards, five touchdowns) is the big receiver Washington was seeking to play opposite 5-10, 190-pound Pro Bowl starter Santana Moss.

However, after David Patten, James Thrash, Taylor Jacobs and Jimmy Farris combined for just 48 catches, 529 yards and no touchdowns last year, the Redskins have addressed their paltry production beyond Moss.

Potentially, that is. Lloyd’s 2005 season was the best of his three-year career. Randle El’s 47 catches as a rookie in 2002 are his career high, and he has just seven touchdowns among his 162 grabs. But unlike Patten and Thrash, who were 31 and 30, respectively, last season, Randle El and Lloyd, 24, could have serious upside.

That is not the case for Fauria, who caught a career-low eight passes last season. But the 11-year veteran did start on the Patriots’ Super Bowl winners in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

If adding three possible starters to an inconsistent offense wasn’t enough, the Redskins also were on the verge of signing veteran backup quarterback Todd Collins to replace Patrick Ramsey, who figures to be traded soon to either the New York Jets or Miami for a second-day draft pick. And Washington could be looking at former Baltimore and Carolina center Jeff Mitchell to give them a veteran reserve lineman.

While Washington’s offensive coaches were busy again, their defensive counterparts finished visits with outside linebacker Andre Carter and strong safety Adam Archuleta without deals in place.

As he was leaving, Carter, who has spent his entire five-year career with the 49ers, told defensive line coach Greg Blache, “It’s something I’ve got to do.” Presumably, the 6-4, 265-pound Carter, who’s the prime option to replace Arrington, was talking about his pending visit to Denver.

Archuleta, who has played all five of his seasons with St. Louis, might end up deciding between rejoining his former defensive coordinator, Lovie Smith, in Chicago, or signing with Washington. If Archuleta becomes a Redskin, that would all but ensure the departure of 2004-05 starter Ryan Clark.

“There are a lot of speeches about core guys, but then they don’t keep the core group together,” said Clark, who’s going to visit the Steelers today. “I love my teammates and my coaches, but there’s the football side, and there’s the business side of the building. [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder likes to make big moves, and Archuleta’s a first-round guy. He’s a good player, an athletic guy. They’ll be able to use him well.”

Clark, who made the Giants as undrafted rookie in 2002 and had a surprisingly large impact after signing with the Redskins just before training camp in 2004, would be unhappy to leave Washington.

“We have real good chemistry on defense, especially in the secondary,” Clark said. “I know my role. And my teammates know what to expect from me. I’m not trying to break the bank. I just want to take care of my family. But with Sean [Taylor] and Archuleta, three’s a crowd. I’ve worked too hard to be on the bench again. I’ve been proving people wrong my whole career. This is just another example of nothing coming easy for me.”

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